IU Health president makes plea on COVID-19 vaccination: “Get the vaccine when your opportunity comes.”


Brian Shockney, who’s president of IU Health’s south central region, which includes Bloomington and Monroe County, said on Friday: “My personal and professional plea to each of you is to get the vaccine when your opportunity comes.”

Registration for vaccination appointments, which are currently limited to frontline healthcare workers and those older than 70, can be done online, or by calling 211.

Shockney followed up a few minutes later with a challenge: “I put a challenge out: Let’s be the first county to achieve herd immunity.” In ballpark numbers that would translate into 70 percent of Monroe County’s population of about 148,000, or 103,600 people.

Shockney was speaking during Friday’s weekly news conference of local leaders on COVID-19 response.

The big mid-week news was that the state of Indiana has expanded the set of vaccine-eligible citizens, beyond frontline healthcare workers and those 80 years and older, to include anyone older than 70.

This week also marked the start of vaccine distribution at the county public health clinic’s open site, at the Monroe County convention center, according to the county’s health administrator, Penny Caudill.

According to the most recent American Community Survey estimates, the number of residents of Monroe County who are 70 or older is 14,088.

Previously, Shockney had pegged the number of frontline health care workers in Monroe County at around 10,000—but that’s hard to track because vaccinations are recorded by county of residence not the county of employment.

On Friday, Indiana University issued a formal press release consistent with remarks from its assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, which he made at last Friday’s press conference, about establishing the IU Bloomington campus as an open, public vaccination site.

The press release states, “Pending state registration confirmation and once plans are finalized, IU Bloomington will provide local residents with an additional location option when they schedule their appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.” The press release adds, “The exact start date and location of the clinic have not been determined.”

The update on numbers from Shockney on Friday was that 8,565 (76.3 percent) of the 11,225 total shots that IU Health has received from the state of Indiana. By the end of Saturday’s clinic, IU Health will have given over 10,000 doses, Shockney said.

Shockney put IU Health’s current pace of vaccination in the context of the initial rate. “Remember our first day, we started with 15 vaccines. Next week, we will begin to offer over 700 vaccines per day,” Shockney said.

Caudill reported that for the county’s vaccination clinic 70 shots were given Monday, and 289 were given on Wednesday. More than 140 are scheduled for Saturday, which is operating on a half-day schedule, Caudill said.

Caudill alluded to the balance that has to be struck between handling first and second doses—because both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two shots, spaced a few weeks apart. Caudill said, “We continue to adjust the schedule. We have to figure out what that sweet spot is, for us to be able to handle the additional second doses, along with first doses, that come in another month.”

Shockney reported that on Monday, IU Health had vaccinated a 101-year old gentleman. About the centenarian, Shockney said, “He walked into the clinic on his own and out on his own. And he was so very happy to get this vaccine.”